Tag Archives: Goats

How to know when your goat is about to kid.

This post has been written and waiting for pictures for quite a while. Goats are difficult to photograph, because they are always in your face.2013-April-014

The most obvious way is to keep track of the breeding date. The tricky part is when you have more than one breeding to track. For example, if you breed your goat around October 20 and she comes back into heat a couple weeks later you want to track both breedings, even if you are positive that she’ll be kidding according to the second breeding.

The surest way to tell is to watch the goat’s ligaments. If you are fortunate enough to have a goat-obsessed teenage daughter, she will watch the ligaments like a hawk for several weeks, the only drawback to this is she may drive you crazy by announcing that the goats are about to kid ‘any day now’ for at least three weeks.

When the doe’s tail goes over to the side we know that kidding is hours or minutes away.

When Tuppence was due to kid around March 12 (second breeding) we were a little surprised (annoyed) to see her tail over on the late, frigid evening of Feb. 22 (first breeding). I confess to denial- the whimpering “this can’t be happening on this freezing cold night in February”- type of denial.  We put the baby monitor in the barn and headed off for bed, or at least for a barn noises ‘sleepover’ in the girls room. We never even got to sleep before it was time to head back out again.

The baby was a decent sized boy, and he was the only baby in there, much to our surprise.

Tory

The baby came out frontward!!!

You have no idea how happy that makes me. Almost all of last year’s babies were backwards or worse. We made sure that they got more exercise this year.

Exercise is important for pregnant goats.

Tuppence tried to climb the wall and sit in my lap while she was in labor. Both of which  were new ones on me.

The baby was born just a couple minutes after midnight. Since it was her goat, Abigail got the honors of getting up to feed the baby again in 3 hours.

If they’re born earlier in the day and are healthy I usually let them go eight hours overnight, but we try to get several feedings around four-six hours apart until we’re positive that they’re eating well.

The next morning brought more excitement. By mid morning Missus G’s tail was over and her ligaments were gone. Thankfully we had a lot of bath towels this year. Missus G kidded about 12:00 noon, which was 12 hours after Tuppence kidded and 2 weeks earlier than anticipated. All of Missus G’s babies came out frontwards as well. One had a hoof back, but that was easily fixable. She had two does and a buck, which makes my ratios 50% this year.

Last year it felt like we waited and waited and waited; this year we didn’t wait at all, but, dang, was it cold.

Just a couple more goofy photos for you.boys-will-be-boys2013 April 033

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In which I become a tattoo artist.

Once upon my lengthy list of things that I have been absolutely dreading and procrastinating about has been TATTOO GOAT BABIES. First, my excuse was that I didn’t have tattoo pliers, but the tattoo pliers have been sitting in my laundry room for a couple months and the babies still lacked their tattoos. I awoke this morning with the determination that by the end of the day I would know more about tattooing goats than I knew at the moment, and the babies would have tattoos or something very like them on their floppy ears.

Yes, I am the woman who was unable to pierce her five year old daughter’s ear resulting Daddy being the one to punch the hole. This was rather ironic as he was less than ecstatic  about the prospect anyway. However, a man with four daughters picks his battles carefully.

With that background of my former squeamishness, you can possibly imagine my thrill at needing to punch this baby through some floppy goat ears.

First you clean their ears.

Then you ink them and punch them, or punch them and ink them, depending on whose directions you are reading. I did some both ways, we shall see if it makes a difference.

Your herd identification goes in the right ear, and the animal’s identification goes in the left ear. I hope it all came out right side up. I put it forward from the direction you’d be reading it if you flipped the ear up to read it standing in front of the goat.

They fussed about the initial piercing, then went back to happily munching their grain, making all my dread and panic attacks completely and totally wasted. I am not at all confident that this project went well, because it went too easily. (Note to self, new thing to worry about.) Everyone talks about how messy tattooing is, I assumed they meant blood and guts, but I think they meant the icky, sticky, get everywhere, cling to everything ink.

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Spent most of m…

Spent most of my Friday up-loading photos to Craigslist! I love the instant classifieds for both selling and buying, but my slow internet service can make it a little time consuming. Do you ever wonder how those super bloggers like Pioneer Woman, who live out in the stinkin’ middle of nowhere manage to upload those millions of fabulous photos? Don’t take your information autobahn for granted, you people who don’t live in the digital black hole. They have faster inter-webs in the third world. Not that I’d change places for a higher kilobyte transfer, but sometimes you just have to wonder.

We’ve some goat kids for sale, we start carefully saying children this time of year when we are referring to our children vs our kids. It get confusing if we do not.

It’s happy-sad occasion. It’s hard not to get attached to them, of all the baby animals in world goat kids are the most endearing.

There are some new photos up on my goat page. The girls are looking a little scruffy from winter, but that’s North Idaho for you, we’re all a little scruffy at the end of winter. There is no point in removing any hair (or dirt) when it’s below freezing.

If you’re ever looking for a major photography challenge try goats. I kid you not! They do not want to stand there and let you take their picture. They want to be with you. The digital camera is a great boon.

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May 5, 2012 · 6:27 pm

Last of the babies

Libby kidded early on a Friday morning. Sound asleep was I with the baby monitor turned down to the sweet spot, not so loud that you can hear every sound that the critters in the barn are making but enough to hear any big noises. Suddenly I was awake, and could hear the goat pushing, it’s so funny how you can listen for a specific noise while you sleep. I threw on my grungy clothes and trotted swiftly out to find a baby in the floor already, and Libby laying in the middle of the floor on the edge of a little hill unable to push the next baby out, because she kept rolling backwards. She always sleeps in a particular corner, which had nice clean fresh straw, but she decides to have her babies in the middle of the floor on a hill. Goats are crazy. We moved her to the kidding pen and after she settled down, out popped another baby. We waited and waited, but no more babies came. It was a little hard to believe that there were only two mid-sized babies in that fat tummy. One was a boy, one was a girl.

Libby is milking quite well. Last year she was off to a slow start, but was very consistent in the amount.  She’s doubled what she did last year, and is milking off some of that excess that she built up. She’s been one cup short of a gallon a time or two and has settled into a pretty steady 14 cups a day. What she lacks in major quantity she makes up for by having rich creamy milk. I’ll probably be selling her so that I can keep one of my babies.

We’re flying through the milk at the moment with all of the babies to feed. I keep hoping to have a chance to make some cheese but every time I get enough milk hoarded up it disappears. My two legged kids felt rather milk deprived the last couple of months. They got milk picky and didn’t like the milk from the freezer, which tasted a little freezer burnt, and weren’t crazy about the few gallons of store milk I picked up to fill in, which tasted old, like plastic, and bleach. Milk tasting is quite a hobby around here. We put it into little cups and talk about sweetness and acidity and finish.

Right now it feels like we’re spending a lot of time feeding babies. We’ve split up into three teams and we each just take one feeding a day. Guess who gets the 5am feeding? Not that the 5am feeding actually every happens at 5am, but anytime before 6am is 5am when you’re not exactly a morning person.

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Mrs. G’s babies

It’s been a week since Mrs. G’s delivery. Partly it’s taken me that long to have time to sit down and write. Partly my brain feels numb from a lack of sleep.

Mrs. G went into labor Saturday morning. It was an incredibly slow labor, but as it didn’t seem to be too intense, I wasn’t super worried. The main concern we had was lack of Calcium/Phosphorus balance. As the goaty girls get alfalfa hay, the phosphorus is actually more of a concern for us. Because her labor was progressing so slowly, we went ahead and gave her a dose of CMPK, it’s not pleasant to give or receive, but as it can save lives the inconvenience seems worth the trouble if you have any concerns at all.

After Sophie’s delivery and pain, I was concerned that perhaps I could have just waited and the baby would have worked it out with less pain to the goat.
Therefore, I was determined to not have to go in and mess with Mrs. G. This was my first and primary mistake.

I let her labor for around five hours before she finally got to some closer together contractions. Then they stopped more or less. I decided to see if her cervix was open, and if it wasn’t, I knew that milking her would get some oxytocin going, which would move this show along. In addition to this her udder was painfully large, and it seemed best to give her what comfort I could. When I did a little check, her cervix didn’t seem to be completely open to me, but then as there is nobody to walk me through my guesses, it was just a guess. I milked a good seven cups of thick yellow colostrum off her and her contractions picked up immediately. Her pushes seemed harder than they should have needed to be.

A black bulge in a sack began to crown and emerge. Something was not right. The shape was wrong, she couldn’t quite make it. Gently I slipped my fingers in with it, and helped  ease her around it with her next horrible pushing spell. It was a sunny side up head with the neck folded back. When I touched the baby, it was obvious that it was dead, as soon as the neck unfolded, you could see that it was broken. With no hoof, and only the head sticking out, the rest of the baby didn’t want to come out.

Mrs. G was clearly in agonizing pain.

I was panicking, unsure of what to do, swearing and praying alternately. With each push my only choice was to keep easing the baby out, focusing on getting one shoulder out. When the one shoulder came out, the rest came out easily, and we could see we were on the home stretch.

My inexperienced opinion is that it was dead in utero, and was unable to be aligned correctly for delivery. The dead kid was a buckling, much to my relief. It felt as if it had been dead a while, but it wasn’t decomposing. I think this also could have delayed labor, as the other babies were large, with teeth.

Mrs. G then delivered two other kids, a buck and a doe, without any other problems. They are named Titania and Puck. Puck has little eyebrow markings over his eyes, that make him look as mischievous as his name sake. Titania is a beautiful doeling, I wish we could keep her, but the I’m hoping kid sales will buy hay this year.

Someday, every experience won’t be a learning experience, but for now this was. I should have gone in until I found a kid, if that first baby had been aligned correctly the whole experience would have been easier on the doe. Possibly the baby could have been saved.

First of all, I am writing down my plan for when I need to go in and find the kids.  Even so it is going to take some time to learn what is what when you can’t see it. I am going to find someone who knows what they are doing and get them to teach me how to feel for presentation properly on a goat.

Things do happen with goats, even to people who have been doing goats forever.

It’s not all white goat milk and clean straw.

The books don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control, sometimes we make mistakes learning things.

It’s going to take more time to learn the things I need to know.

Personally, I think I need more goats so I can learn them faster.

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Sophie’s kids

You are not supposed to have any trouble with goats at all. They just pop out babies and caper merrily in the fields. I read it in a book. Why do we think everything is easy? Is it because people don’t admit to having trouble? Or am I doing something wrong? My statistics are way off.

According the my goat bible;

  • 50% of kids should be does
  • 95% of births do not need any assistance
  • first fresheners rarely have triplets.

My personal portion of that sampling is as follows:

  • 30% of kids are doelings;
  • 75%of births need assistance;
  • 66% of first fresheners have triplets

Sophie finally went into labor on Wednesday after noon. She didn’t fuss very much. When she got around to pushing, she would give these little diva pushes and look back to see if anything was there yet. It was a little amusing, until we got to the intense pushing and nothing was happening. There seemed no possible way that a five-pound baby was going to come out of a one-inch opening.

I read real goat people as much as possible. Firstly, because the whole thing fascinates me; secondly, because James Herriot doesn’t exactly live next door. There are vets, but that doesn’t mean they want to come out on a Saturday to do something you should be able to do yourself, or that they’ll be able to get to your place in under half a day. Learning to do these things without some one to walk you through them is tricky. Books and You Tube videos only take you so far.

The real goat people advise checking presentation. Having gotten myself used to the idea that my hand was going to have to fit in there, and see what was going on, I did so, without a lot of hoopla, but with gloves. O most defiantly with gloves! Getting in there is only half the battle. The message sent from my hand to my inexperienced brain was that there was a triangle roast bone there. What part of baby goat anatomy feels like a roast bone I didn’t know. What I did know was that it was not a head and a hoof. The roast bone in there felt huge, as big as Sophie, and it seemed to be aiming towards her pin bones just a little too high and  was hitting everything wide side first. I brought it around and she was able to get it out.  The whole thing seemed intensely painful for the poor goat. I was crying, Abbie was crying, we were pretty sure that we were going to have to find a vet to hack the huge baby into pieces to get it out of poor little Sophie.

The triangle bone thing was a baby goat butt, aka, breech position. This isn’t really a huge deal as long as it’s a straight breech. Sophie is just a little small, and that baby was truly huge. Before we could even wipe the slime of that baby and do a quick gender check, another baby came sliding out. I’m not sure Sophie even pushed it. A little doeling was just waiting for that big brother of hers to quit blocking the door so she could escape. We just got those two dried off, when Sophie started pushing again and out came another little buckling-butt first. After her difficult labor, a handful of raisins seemed an inadequate compensation, and I made the mistake of letting them briefly bond. This led to at least 3 days of little Sophie turning into a little horse.

Her babies are gorgeous. Othello, Cassio, and Desmonda.  Not that my kids are reading Shakespeare straight by any stretch, but they do enjoy Lambs Tales of Shakespeare.         Othello– Exactly the type of story suitable for a children’s book. Cheerful wholesome stuff, that is… At least it isn’t twaddle.

Sophie is behaving passably on the stand, once we get her up there. She is milking super well.  One week into it and she’s already hit a gallon! Her little tiny cat teats don’t exactly make milking a pleasure, but that will probably change over time. There could be something to say for dam-raising on first fresheners.

Sophie’s delivery made Libby’s difficult delivery look like a cakewalk, but unbeknownst to me, more experience was yet to come.

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